Background: Aprotinin is a serine protease inhibitor that reduces blood loss and transfusion requirements when administered prophylactically to cardiac surgical patients. To examine the safety and dose-related efficacy of aprotinin, a prospective, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in patients undergoing repeat coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
Methods and results: Two hundred eighty-seven patients were randomly assigned to receive either high-dose aprotinin, low-dose aprotinin, pump-prime-only aprotinin, or placebo. Drug efficacy was determined by the reduction in donor-blood transfusion up to postoperative day 12 and in postoperative thoracic-drainage volume. The percentage of patients requiring donor-red-blood-cell (RBC) transfusions in the high- and low-dose aprotinin groups was reduced compared with the pump-prime-only and placebo groups (high-dose aprotinin, 54%; low-dose aprotinin, 46%; pump-prime only, 72%; and placebo, 75%; overall P = .001). The number of units of donor RBCs transfused was significantly lower in the aprotinin-treated patients compared with placebo (high-dose aprotinin, 1.6 +/- 0.2 U; low-dose aprotinin, 1.6 +/- 0.3 U; pump-prime-only, 2.5 +/- 0.3 U; and placebo, 3.4 +/- 0.5 U; P = .0001). There was also a significant difference in total blood-product exposures among treatment groups (high-dose aprotinin, 2.2 +/- 0.4 U; low-dose aprotinin, 3.4 +/- 0.9 U; pump-prime-only, 5.1 +/- 0.9 U; placebo, 10.3 +/- 1.4 U). There were no differences among treatment groups for the incidence of perioperative myocardial infarction (MI).
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that high- and low-dose aprotinin significantly reduces the requirement for donor-blood transfusion in repeat CABG patients without increasing the risk for perioperative MI.